"There is something noteworthy a rocket can do that the shuttle cannot. A rocket can be permitted to fail." Gregg Easterbrook's 1980 Washington Monthly
cover story looks into the Columbia's beginnings, the hazards he saw in the shuttle, and its weaknesses compared to rockets.
Once you get into space, you check to see if any tiles are damaged. If enough are, you have a choice between Plan A and Plan B. Plan A is hope they can get a rescue shuttle up in time. Plan B is burn up coming back. [via Slate]
posted by kirkaracha
on Feb 2, 2003 -
17 years ago today,
the space shuttle Challenger exploded, killing all seven aboard. I share this primarily as I recall this being the first where-were-you-when of my childhood. So where were you?
posted by xmutex
on Jan 28, 2003 -
--and promise to as brighter or brighter than last year:
NASA scientists' predictions for the 2002 Leonid meteor storm.
Such meteor storms rarely happen in consecutive years, but 2001 and 2002 are exceptions. Experts have just released their predictions: Depending on where you live (Europe and the Americas are favored) Leonid meteor rates in 2002 should equal or exceed 2001 levels.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the Moon will be full when the storm begins on Nov. 19th. Glaring moonlight will completely overwhelm many faint shooting stars. Indeed, I often hear that the Moon is going to "ruin the show."
We shall see.
posted by y2karl
on Nov 16, 2002 -
Swan song for a great explorer.
Tomorow, the Galileo explorer will make a flyby of Jovian moon Amalthea
ending pehaps the geatest unmanned mission in NASA history. Galileo telemetry may not survive the flyby having already receieved much more radiation than it was designed for. Even if it does survive, this will be its final orbit scheduled to crash into Jupiter in September of next year. In spite of antenna difficulties, the spacecraft returned many beautiful images
of Jupiter's moons, along with coverage of the Shoemaker-Levy collision
and the first atmospheric probe to decend into Jupiter's weather.
posted by KirkJobSluder
on Nov 3, 2002 -
Le Voyage dans la Lune/A Trip to the Moon
A tree grows in Houston. Apparently a cache of tree seeds were carried into space by an American astronaut in the early 1970s. They were carried home, planted, grown into seedlings, and distributed around the country, mostly in honor of the 1976 bicentennial. Anyway, no one took note of where the moon trees went. A curious NASA scientist is on the hunt for the locations of the moon trees. Do you have a moon tree
in your town? Do you have a documented historic tree
in your area? Are your local trees protected? Does this make local residents irate
posted by jengod
on Oct 22, 2002 -
Maybe they should have let Lance Bass on this one.
A Soyuz rocket explodes 29 seconds after takeoff, killing one and injuring eight from the blast. Although it was not carrying any material destined for the International Space Station, launch delays caused by the investigation into the explosion might hurt the IIS project in the long run.
posted by LuxFX
on Oct 16, 2002 -
World on Fire
is brought to us by the fun kids at NASA, showing satellite images of active fires around the planet on July 11, 2002. "Across the world, the widespread fires that burn each year in the savannas of Africa, Australia, and Brazil dwarf even the most significant fire season in the western United States as far as total acreage and number of fires."
has its own set of images from 2000 as well.
posted by keli
on Sep 3, 2002 -
Nasa plans to read the minds of terrorists...
NASA wants to use "noninvasive neuro-electric sensors," imbedded in gates, to collect tiny electric signals that all brains and hearts transmit. Computers would apply statistical algorithms to correlate physiologic patterns with computerized data on travel routines, criminal background and credit information from "hundreds to thousands of data sources," NASA documents say
posted by Espoo2
on Aug 20, 2002 -
Solar System Akin to Earth's Is Discovered
Any minute now, I imagine somebody at a listening station on a smaller, bluer planet a few in from this one making a minute adjustment to their equipment and promptly spraying warm stimulant-laced beverage over their console...
posted by hob
on Jun 14, 2002 -
The New Frontier-
Preparing the law for settling on Mars. "Like the abandoned launch fields [at Cape Canveral], the Outer Space Treaty [of 1967] needs to have its valuable parts salvaged, and the dangerous ones demolished."
posted by Ty Webb
on Jun 4, 2002 -
New NASA Satellite Zooms in on Tornado Swath ...the twister's swath is the bright stripe passing through the town and running eastward 6 miles (10 km) toward the Patuxent River beyond the righthand side of the image. This stripe is the result of the vegetation flattened by the storm. The flattened vegetation reflects more light than untouched vegetation.
posted by quonsar
on May 3, 2002 -
Freeze sperm, leave the men behind.
In this article, a NASA researcher explains how a flight to the nearest star would take place within our lifetimes, but require at least a couple generations. The generation that leaves (which could be entirely female to save on weight and maximize potential for offspring) would die, and giving birth to the next crew. Taking a trip like this would increase our knowledge of space many-fold, but would you be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for mankind? Is a trip like this a bad idea?
posted by mathowie
on May 2, 2002 -
Our great grandkids are toast!
A one kilometre-wide chunk of space rock could strike the Earth in 2880, say astronomers... "This is not something to worry about," said Jon Giorgini, a senior engineer at the American space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory... "That's plenty of time to consider the options - 35 generations, in fact."
posted by y0mbo
on Apr 5, 2002 -
The Solar System Simulator
to simulate - as realistically as possible - what one would actually see from any point in the Solar System. The software looks up the positions of the Sun, planets and satellites from ephemeris files developed here at JPL, as well as star positions and colors from a variety of stellar databasees, and uses special-purpose renderers to draw a color scene. Texture maps for each of the planets and physical models for planetary rings have been derived (in most cases) from scientific data collected by various JPL spacecraft.' Far too complicated for me to even begin to understand, still I've always wondered what Saturn looks like
posted by RobertLoch
on Mar 27, 2002 -
Puzzling X-rays from Jupiter
"We weren't surprised to find x-rays coming from Jupiter." Other observatories had done that years ago. The surprise is what Chandra has revealed for the very first time: the location of the beacon -- surprisingly close the planet's pole -- and the regular way it pulses. (Via Fark.)
posted by Mwongozi
on Mar 7, 2002 -
is NASA's nifty new site where they'll be posting info on new planetary discoveries. It's a long shot, but hopefully this will lead to broader based public support for the space program.
posted by Optamystic
on Jan 9, 2002 -
NASA creates the most detailed topographic map
of the Earth ever produced. The new map is a result of data gathered on shuttle mission STS-99
in February 2000.
The catch? DOD doesnt want most of it released. (link via Wired
posted by Irontom
on Dec 12, 2001 -
NASA Tentatively OKs Second Space Tourist
"NASA and its partners in the International Space Station have agreed in principle to let a 28-year-old South African become the second paying tourist on the orbiting outpost, the U.S. space agency said on Tuesday."
Mark Shuttleworth you lucky bastard!
posted by dgeiser13
on Dec 11, 2001 -
The romance versus the reality of man in space.
According to this article, unless NASA gets an innoculation of a whole bunch of money, we are likely to be limited to maintaining no more than three longterm residents of the space station we are committed to building. How does this bode for our Star Trek vision?
posted by MAYORBOB
on Dec 5, 2001 -
Rising Sea Level Forcing Evacuation of Tuvalu.
"During the twentieth century, sea level rose by 20-30 centimeters (8-12 inches)." The 1,196 tiny islands of the Maldives are "barely 2 meters above sea level". "In 2000 the World Bank published a map showing that a 1-meter rise in sea level would inundate half of Bangladesh's riceland." Here are EPA
sites on the sea level. (NASA? They may be promoting justification to colonize other planets ASAP!)
posted by mmarcos
on Nov 25, 2001 -
With the Mars Odyssey
about to finalize gravitational orbit tomorrow, you too can observe the surface of Mars via a simulcast
or through the NASA
website on October 30th. NASA is still searching for irrefutable evidence
that Mars could have supported an ecosystem
or more importantly life. Interesting.
posted by Benway
on Oct 23, 2001 -
Is Mars the answer?
The healing process will take years. The moon landing was a peaceful demonstation of America's technological leadership in the 20th century. Could a Mars landing do the same for the 21st?
posted by Loudmax
on Sep 26, 2001 -
Stormy Space Weather Takes a Toll on Ozone
A new study confirms a long-held theory that large solar storms rain electrically charged particles down on Earth's atmosphere and deplete the upper-level ozone for weeks to months thereafter. Said Charles Jackman, a researcher at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Laboratory for Atmospheres and lead author of the study: "[W]hen these solar proton events occur you can see immediately a change in the atmosphere, so you have a clear cause and effect."
posted by dagny
on Aug 2, 2001 -